Dan Markingson was a happy, smart 26-year-old from Minnesota, until the day his mother visited him in Los Angeles and found him delusional, even murderous. He was hospitalized in November 2003 and would have been involuntarily committed—but he was granted a stay, on the condition that he comply with a treatment program laid out by his psychiatrist. Instead, he was allegedly coerced into a clinical trial for antipsychotic drugs. Despite his mother's repeated insistence that his drug wasn't working, Markingson's doctors kept him in the study—and less than six months later, he killed himself.
In an extensive Mother Jones piece, Carl Elliott delves into Markingson's case and its frightening implications. Clinical trials are inherently risky—but, worse, industry-funded studies are often skewed in such a way that they are little more than a PR attempt to make their drug of choice look good. Worst of all, doctors and universities like those involved in Markingson's case are particularly determined to get patients involved, because they receive money from the drug makers. "It is one thing to ask people to take risks for science, or the common good, or to help other people," writes Elliott. "It is another thing entirely to ask them to risk their lives" for a marketing pitch. Read his full article here. (Read more clinical trials stories.)